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When Friendship Hurts

How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You



We've all had friendships that have gone bad. Whether it takes the form of a simple yet inexplicable estrangement or a devastating betrayal, a failed friendship can make your life miserable, threaten your success at work or school, and even undermine your romantic relationships.

Finally there is help. In When Friendship Hurts, Jan Yager, recognized internationally as a leading expert on friendship, explores what causes friendships to falter and explains how to mend them -- or end them. In this straightforward, illuminating book filled with dozens of quizzes and real-life examples, Yager covers all the bases, including:

The twenty-one types of negative friends -- a rogues' gallery featuring such familiar types as the Blood-sucker, the Fault-finder, the Promise Breaker, and the Copycat

How to recognize destructive friends as well as how to find ideal ones

The e-mail effect -- how electronic communication has changed friendships for both the better and the worse

The misuse of friendship at work -- how to deal with a co-worker's lies, deceit, or attempts at revenge

How to stop obsessing about a failed friendship

And much more

The first highly prescriptive book to focus on the complexities of friendship, When Friendship Hurts demonstrates how, why, and when to let go of bad friends and how to develop the positive friendships that enrich our lives on every level. For everyone who has ever wondered about friends who betray, hurt, or reject them, this authoritative book provides invaluable insights and advice to resolve the problem once and for all.

Reading Group Guide for When Friendship Hurts
Discussion Points:
  1. In When Friendship Hurts, Dr. Yager lists many possible reasons one friend might hurt another. Think of a friendship you care about that either has ended or needs to improve if it is to last. What concepts from When Friendship Hurts might explain the conflicts in this friendship and help you to mend it?
  2. What is the definition of a positive friendship? What does Dr. Yager say are the key components of friendships that reaffirm us?
  3. Dr. Yager writes that there are really three kinds of friendship: casual, close, and best. What is similar and what is contrasting in these three categories?
  4. In addition to the level of intimacy involved, friendships are distinguished by the number of people in the friendship group. How do friendships between two vary from friendship groups including three, four, or more?
  5. Dr. Yager suggests 21 different types of negative friends. Do you recognize any of those traits in your current or former friends? In yourself? Pick a type that describes one of your friends. Why do you think your friend is like that? What can you do, if anything, to help yourself and your friend so the friendship stays positive?
  6. How can Dr. Yager's description of the Ideal Friend serve as a prototype? Do you have at least one friend who is ideal? Are you? In all your friendships or only in certain ones? If you are not the Ideal Friend, what could you change about yourself so you are a better friend?
  7. How can the techniques of conflict resolution discussed in Chapter 5 apply to the conflict you may be having with a friend? Is there at least one technique you could try next time a conflict arises with a friend?
  8. When, if ever, is it time to end a friendship? Why is it sometimes better to let a friendship fade than to have a dramatic confrontation?
  9. What might you do if you don't like your child's friend? When might you want to intervene? What are other options to explore?
  10. What is the answer to the question posed by Chapter 7, "Friendship at Work: Are the Rules Different?" Should friendship at work be encouraged? What are the benefits of workplace friendships? What are some of the potential drawbacks?
  11. In the final chapter, Dr. Yager shares the example of Doris and her two close friends, each of whom abruptly and inexplicably cut off contact with her. What do you think of the way Doris handled this situation? Has something like that ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Have you ever cut off contact with someone you had considered a friend? Why? How do you feel about that decision now?
  12. If you had to pick one concept from When Friendship Hurts that would be most helpful to you in the way you deal with betrayal in friendship or the way you approach friendship in your career or personal life, what would it be?

A Note to Readers:
My goal in writing When Friendship Hurts was to inspire dialogue about an important kind of relationship we usually take for granted. We know we are supposed to work on our relationships with our spouses and children, but we seldom think of working on relationships with our friends. Yet a true friendship can be one of life's most rewarding experiences, and I am convinced it is a relationship we should value highly.
Since, by definition, friendship requires more than one person, and since the feelings and memories that reading this book evokes may be powerful and perhaps even painful, you may want some company on your journey. Discussing these issues with a reading or support group may be an excellent way to explore the broad range of themes presented here. But please remember that this book is not intended to substitute for professional help, if that is what you need. If you are already in therapy, you might want to share this book with your therapist or group so that you can talk about your reactions to the topics, anecdotes, and examples you are reading. Most of all, I hope this book will act as a catalyst to help you find your own answers.
My web site address is: There you will find information about my research and writings, as well as information about the seminars I conduct. You can also learn about the annual National New Friends, Old Friends Week, which I founded in 1997, and which begins on the Saturday after Mother's Day, to help remind all of us that friendships, especially positive and affirming ones, are worth remembering and celebrating.